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Staycation: Oak Hill Cemetery

August 5, 2011

Yes, today’s DC staycation adventure is to a cemetery.

I’ve was intrigued by Georgetown’s Oak Hill Cemetery after walking by many times when it was closed, or seeing large groups go in and wonder what made this cemetery special. Forgive me for saying this, but aren’t cemeteries supposed to be depressing?

Historic Oak Hill, though, is just really peaceful. Created in the mid-19th century, the cemetery holds a lot of history, from Revolutionary and Civil War veterans to modern-day Washingtonians.

As someone who’s interested in history, I like seeing this history carved into stone, tracing who came to Washington (and America) and from where.

Mostly, Oak Hill Cemetery is nice to wander because it’s so quiet — tucked back from the street, away from honking cars and wailing sirens.

There’s a long list of notable people buried at Oak Hill — Jefferson Davis, Lincoln’s son Willie — but I couldn’t find any of those ‘famous’ graves. Instead I just wandered around and enjoyed the quiet.

Other historic cemeteries worth visiting in Washington*:

  • Congressional Cemetery — probably the city’s most famous, with scheduled tours and an application process to walk your dog there, which keeps the graveyard “mostly free and clear of riff raff and vandals.”
  • The Glenwood Cemetery — known for its creative, interesting grave markers, including a “grieving father memorialized a small daughter, Teresina Vasco, sitting in her rocking chair” and the “parents of a young man named Victor Blundon erected a monument in 1936 depicting his likeness in stone as well as that of his beloved constant companion, an Irish setter.”
  • St. Paul’s Rock Creek Cemetery — the only surviving colonial church in DC

Cemeteries: interesting to visit or too creepy?

*Arlington National Cemetery, the most famous cemetery in the country, is the obvious one to visit just across the river.

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